Matter of Kolmel v City of New York
Petitioner seeking to annul the determination of the City of New York Department of Education, denying certification of completion of probation and terminating employment as a probationary teacher, as well as denying his appeal of petitioner’s “U” rating for the 2008-09 school year.
The Court decided to unanimously reverse and the petition was granted annulling the “U” rating and remanding the matter to the DOE for proper completion of the final review and recommendation.
Petitioner was a probationary teacher for three years, receiving satisfactory reviews and reports for each school year. Petitioner agreed to extend his probationary period into the 2008-09 school year. This year he received two unsatisfactory and satisfactory classroom reports. The principal gave him an unsatisfactory rating for each category within the year-end report resulting in a U-rating for the 2008-09 school year. Petitioner was then denied certification of completion of probation which required his termination and disallowed him from being hired elsewhere in the City.
Although petitioner’s unsatisfactory reviews within the 2008-09 school year could suffice as rational support that he had not developed enough to be a proficient teacher, there is evidence that proves other.
Petitioner submitted evidence that the principal, who made the final determination of the “U” rating for the 2008-09 school year, did not observe the petitioner’s teaching within his last two years of teaching. This violates the DOE’s rules when considering teachers reviews, that require at minimum one observation (by the principal) and pre-observation meetings with probationary teachers in danger of “U” ratings. The principal’s year end evaluation was without evidence and seemed arbitrarily completed. A current DOE employee submitted a statement that the principal would pressure assistant principal’s into giving undeserved “U” ratings without observation. “These deficiencies in the review process leading to the recommendation to deny tenure and terminate petitioner’s employment are not merely technical, but undermined the integrity and fairness of the process.”